Feb 29, 2016

Hunter's Story: Providing Loving Care for Senior Dogs

Hi! My name is Hunter.
Hi! My name is Hunter.

Hunter was originally seized by the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department in 2005. He was soon adopted and spent many years in a loving home, but when his human (a senior himself) became ill, he found himself back at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center in January 2016, at the ripe age of 12 years.

Hunter has severe arthritis and requires joint supplements and non steroidal anti-inflammatories for the rest of his life. Typical of an older dog, the lenses of Hunter’s eyes have started to become gray-- He can see, but may have a mild trouble visually focusing, particularly at night. Sweet Hunter also had a recent episode of geriatric vestibular syndrome (vertigo), which caused him to be very dizzy. He would sometimes fall or be unable to get up. Thankfully he recovered from this, but it is likely to recur at unpredictable intervals. He still has a little left head tilt and may stumble or fall if he tries to move quickly, but it does not cause him discomfort. With every recurrence, it may take longer for him to recover, and he may eventually never recover. Our greatest wish for Hunter is to be in a loving home for whatever quality time he has left, which could be for weeks or months.

Because it typically takes a long time for senior dogs with special medical needs to find homes, the ASPCA selected Hunter as a candidate for the “fospice” care program in the home of one of our dedicated volunteers.

“Fospice” homes are part foster, part hospice. Fospice volunteers open their homes and hearts to animals who may not be medically healthy enough for adoption, but still need special care and attention in a warm and loving home. The ASPCA covers all medical expenses for foster caregivers (including medication), as well as food, equipment and supplies. Foster caregivers only need to provide their home, attention, and love. To learn more about fostering with the ASPCA, visit https://www.aspca.org/take-action/volunteer/fostering-aspca

Your donation to Marnie’s Old Pals helps support the special needs and medical care for senior dogs just like Hunter. On behalf of Marnie, the ASPCA and all of the animals in its care, THANK YOU for your generous support!

Hunter Smiles
Hunter Smiles
Such a handsome older gentleman!!
Such a handsome older gentleman!!
Feb 5, 2016

The 850-Mile Journey Home: Kody's Happy Tail

When Dean read a recent ASPCA News Alert about a puppy mill raid in Clewiston, Florida, something about the accompanying photo of a frightened dog being carried to safety by ASPCA responder Sharon Wirant tugged at his heartstrings.

“His face really grabbed me—and how he was being held,” Dean remembers. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to find out where that dog is; that dog’s coming home with me.’ It was just something I had to do.”

Dean contacted the ASPCA via phone and email, eventually learning the identity of the dog. He is Kody, a seven-year-old Pomeranian.

Kody was one of more than 100 dogs rescued by the ASPCA, in conjunction with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, during last November's raid. The dogs—spanning large and small breeds from Siberian huskies to Chihuahuas—were found living in crowded, filthy conditions, and were being bred to sell to pet stores in the Miami-Dade area. Some suffered from various medical conditions; Kody had dental disease, intestinal parasites and an ear infection.

“We’ve adopted rescued animals since the late 1980s,” says Dean, who lives in Smithville, Tennessee, with his wife, Heather. “Over the past three years we even adopted senior dogs from as far away as Utah and Virginia. Some were older and didn’t live much longer after we adopted them, so my wife said she just didn’t want to do it again because it hurts too much to lose them.”

But Dean wouldn’t take no for an answer. He printed Kody’s photo and put it next to their coffee pot, with a sign that read, “Can I come live at your house?”

Heather finally said yes.

Thanks to efforts of the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy team, which worked closely with counsel for local law enforcement, custody of the rescued dogs was resolved early in the case so they could be transferred to rescue partners for adoption. Less than a week later, Dean and Heather tracked down Kody at the Humane Society of Broward County in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The next step was planning the 850-mile drive to adopt him.

After a thirteen hour journey, Dean and his family arrived home on December 23 with Kody in tow. They carefully introduced him to their 11-year-old Sheltie named Kinsey, with both dogs on a leash. “They smelled each other and have since become fast friends,” says Dean, who notes that Kody “broke out of his shell pretty quick.”

Dean adds that Kody is good with kids, including the couple’s three grandchildren who range in age from 9 to 16.  Over Christmas, he got used to a full house and “figured out how to beg.” But like most dogs from puppy mills, he was indifferent toward toys and is still not quite housebroken.

At night, Kody slumbers in a laundry basket filled with blankets.

“We didn’t want to crate him, or put him in anything that looked like a cage,” Dean explains, referring to Kody’s traumatic past. “Sometimes, he even sleeps with us.”

“Kody and the other dogs rescued with him had never been pets and now, for the first time, they are finding out what a safe and loving home feels like,” says Jessica Rushin, Senior Partnerships Manager for the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team.  “Kody got the second chance of a lifetime.” 

Kody can be full of energy, according to Dean, and loves his new-found joy of running. “It’s the most exercise he’s had in his life.” 

THANK YOU! Your support through GlobalGiving has raised over 27 thousand dollars to help shelter pets like Kody. Our lifesaving work would be impossible without the generosity of friends like you!

Photo courtesy of Humane Society of Broward County
Photo courtesy of Humane Society of Broward County


Nov 11, 2015

"Hercules": Helper Dog for Canine Cruelty Victims

At the ASPCA Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE), which houses dogs seized by the NYPD as part of animal cruelty investigations, a two-year-old pit bull named Hercules acts as a helper pup to other dogs in need. Hercules is one of six helper dogs at the ASPCA.

A former cruelty victim, Hercules was severely underweight and covered with multiple ulcers and wounds when he arrived at the ASPCA in March. Named by staff for his fortitude, Hercules is a heroic guide for other dogs at the ASPCA who are fearful and severely under-socialized.

“Using a helper dog is often much more effective and efficient than if we try to bring a fearful dog out of its shell all by ourselves,” says Victoria Wells, ASPCA Senior Manager of Behavior and Training. “It’s a huge leap instead of a baby step when you can pair a fearful or under-socialized dog with one who is more outgoing.”

Hercules has helped more than six dogs overcome their fear and poor social skills, while helping others build confidence and be less timid. Helper dogs like Hercules should be comfortable around other dogs, though not exuberant or overly rambunctious.

The extent of the helper animal’s role depends largely on the behavior of the dog in need. “For a dog who is shut down or catatonic, we’ll expose him to a neutral dog,” says Victoria. “This allows the fearful dog to relax or engage in the company of a being that can better communicate with him than we can.”

A helper dog may inspire another dog to walk around a room or down a hallway. “He may also coax a dog to go outdoors, which some are terrified of. But they’ll go if they can follow a helper dog,” says Victoria.

When a blind German Shepherd named Wiley arrived at the ASPCA, he was so fearful that he refused to move. The ASPCA Behavior team utilized a helper dog to guide Wiley out of his shell.

“We had to carry Wiley out of his kennel into the training room, and then back into his kennel,” she remembers. “The only thing that piqued his interest was when he heard another dog bark. So we brought in a puppy and noticed that when the puppy approached Wiley and sniffed him, Wiley would respond. Soon Wiley started interacting with people, then walking and playing, and his behavior turned around completely.”

Crimson, a six-year-old, blind shepherd mix rescued by NYPD officers, showed an interest in another dog’s pups at CARE and was soon designated as a helper dog to assist with their socialization.

“Crimson was vaccinated and mellow—and the puppies weren’t overpowering or too rambunctious,” says Kris Lindsay, Technical Operations Manager. “They boosted Crimson’s confidence and helped him navigate, and the pups benefitted because they needed to meet other dogs. It also gave their mother a break.”

As our helper dogs go on to find loving homes, the results of their heroic efforts will be felt in the many animals whose lives they touched.

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